Do all American ATMs charge an extra fee for cash withdrawals on a foreign card?
I've just gone to take some cash out of an ATM (Cash Machine) in Seattle. I visited about half a dozen in the end, and every single one wanted to charge me an extra fee (typically about $3) for the cash withdrawl on my (non-US) card. This was at bank ATMs in the centre of town, at their branches, rather than in a supermarket or somewhere.
In the end I had to give up and let one of them charge me (I needed cash!), but it was both unexpected and rather annoying. Having gone to the trouble of getting a card that wasn't going to charge me lots to use it abroad, I'm instead hit with fees from the owner of the cash machine.
Was I really unlucky to only find ATMs that wanted to charge me as a foreign user, or do all American ATMs do that? And if only some do, what banks should I be trying to find to avoid being hit with the fee?
At JFK airport the cash machine didn't charge us...but everywhere else in NYC we were charged...!
If you travel a bit, consider getting a basic account with one of the global banks, e.g. Citibank or HSBC. If you have one of their cards, you can generally withdraw cash fee-free (except maybe a conversion fee) at any of their ATMs worldwide.
The trouble is that their conversion fees can be quite poor, while the card I want to use has no fees and no spread on it. Withdrawing a few hundred dollars, I'd be better off paying a few dollars in fees rather than use a Citibank card with a 3-4% spread!
exactly as you say, when it says "no fee!" it's just an absurd trick, they simply charge a worse rate.
Forgot to mention it in my bounty text: If someone knows a store that offers cashback via MasterCard/Visa that is also an option. All stores I know require your card to be on an US debit network. With foreign cards you always need to select "credit" in a store, even if it is a debit card.
Try a credit union. Many of them boast surcharge-free ATMs. Lots of smaller banks don't collect surcharges either. Those that don't often will have a big sign saying so near the ATM. The Credit Union National Association, the Independent Community Bankers Association and The Co-Op Network all have ATM locators on their Web sites.
Ask for cash-back when you use your ATM card at a grocery store. This service is free at many stores.
Bankrate's 2010 Checking Study found that 99.1 percent of ATMs charged a fee to noncustomers, a few ticks above the 98.7 percent that charged a fee last year. Of course this means there are still SOME out there!
(From same survey) the average fee is $2.33. So at the least, try and beat that target ;)
I also suggest withdrawing as much money as you can at once (without withdrawing more than you'll need), so you are hit with fewer fees. This is advice I follow religiously, as I use a US bank account, and withdraw money at Mexican ATMs--and have not found any with no fees!
+1 for the grocery store idea... but, when in america do as the americans do => use credit ;)
In the case of Mexico I think there is a tax or some other kind of government fee on ATMs which cannot be avoided.
The TechCU (Part of the Co-Op network) and located in San Francisco does charge $3 on foreign bank accounts. Just tested it :(
@alengel - is it the ATM charging, or your foreign bank charging for an overseas transaction?
The ATM charged me. I don't pay any fees with my UK credit card (I picked it for precisely that reason).